Sunday, December 18, 2016

Anachronistic 40k: Madboyz

I could blog for years about the Orks from the early days of Warhammer 40,000. There was so much unique and rich material from that time that got left behind with the new editions. Slowly, elements from that era have crept back, especially in the background material. But one particular unit type from that era that never returned, at least on the table-top, are the Madboyz.

One of the Sacred Books of WAAARGH!

The Madboyz first appeared in 'Ere We Go, one of the three Rogue Trader-era stand-alone publications dedicated solely to Orks. It's a brilliant work, one I still recommend to all true fans of the Orks. It featured a lot of new units and the Madboyz was one of them. Essentially the Madboyz are the Orks that are so insane -for whatever reason- that the "normal" Orks would rather not be around them. Here's a quote from the book that sums them up rather nicely:

"Madboys are Orks whose behaviour marks them as obviously and unashamedly mad. Of course, even normal Orks do things which a human would think insane, but Madboyz are so reckless, manic, or downright strange that even other Orks consider them crazy."

It's stated that in the game, the player has very little control over the Madboyz. In fact the unit they form is called a Madmob and once you see their rules you'll find that to be a fit title. The only thing you can do is point the models in the direction that you want them to face at the start of their turn, and roll on the chart. The Mood Chart. The Mood Chart used a D10 and broke down as follows:

1. Frantik
2. Paranoid
3. Phobiak
4. Manik
5. Skitzo
6. Moronik
7. Delirik
8. Melankolik
9.-10. Bloodlust

You then referenced the corresponding page, as each of these conditions had a further D10 chart to roll on -which filled up an entire 8.5" x 11" page of the books! Malankolik was the exception and was only a half-page and used a D6. Rolling on these charts was insanely fun, and you NEVER knew what was going to happen next.

The Phobiak table, to give you a sense of the possibilities. 

Your Madboyz could do anything from being terrified of the battle noises, to shooting at random terrain features, to laying about contemplating the universe. Their actions were totally determined by the charts in the book and they ignored normal rules for psychology. In one battle I heard about, a friend of mine had his Madboyz roll a result that had them decide that the enemy wasn't so bad after all and they went up and tried to befriend the closest one, in this case a Deathjester who had just gibbed some boyz with a bio-shuriken. Nothing was all the enemy was allowed to do as he was too confused to understand what was happening. (Skitzo, 'Fraternizashun wiv da enemee'). The results are far to numerous to dictate or copy for this post, but I hope you get the gist: these rules were crazy-fun!

You could influence their behavior slightly by having a Weirdboy join the unit which allowed you to re-roll the Mood Chart results. Often in the lore for Weirdboyz there will be discussion regarding their association with the Madboyz. Other factors would trigger new mood swings as well: Having the unit-size drop to less than 25% of the starting force, other units routing too close to the Madmob, units close by charging, being charged by the enemy, etc. They even summarized this in a chart (a novel concept!).

Like I said, crazy-fun! And so were the models! Brilliantly sculpted by the legendary Bob Olly, who I think did some of his best work on these guys. Each model represented one of the nine moods from the rules and they were just full of energy. So much so that some of these are 28mm tributes to kinetic energy. Take a look at the catalog page below:

Madness for sale! 
And then 2nd edition came along with it's tidied up ruleset and ruined it all. Gone were the pages of charts and bizarre random actions. Instead you got one chart. This chart relied upon the existing core psychology rules, so your Madboyz could end up being Frenzied, Stupid, Fearful, Crazy or even immune to all Psychology. These rules were simply no fun at all and not nearly as random or as entertaining at the previous rules were. Yes, the previous rules were a lot to have to deal with, and it would've been a sizable chunk of the page count to directly port them into the tight book that was the Codex: Orks, that's understood. But it felt like a cop-out to simply resort to the existing psychology rules, which honestly, were more of a pain to deal then they ever were beneficial.

Having said that, at least we had rules for the Madboyz. When 40k 3rd ed came around, it was "back ta basiks" for the Orks, and some of their zanier aspects were simply gone. The Madboyz would only return as a sidebar mention in the 4th ed Codex (rules-wise, arguably the best post 3rd Ed book the Orks got*) and in a three paragraph write-up in the current book. In fact so prominent is their piece in the current book that I have to wonder if GW were hoping to make new models but just didn't get to them in time? I would love to know if that theory has any merit. Since they still exist in the background as being augmenting influences to the Weirdboyz, and with the return of psykers in 40k in 6th & 7th Ed, it would have been nice to have a bit more help for the for the Weirdboyz.

Mad Dok Grotsnik.
Also the background for Mad Dok Grotsnik mentions how he's "madder than a Madboy", so technically I suppose there is still one Madboy left in the game...

* 2018 addendum: Morko Vayrynen commented that the Madboyz did reappear during 3rd edition! It was in the Ferral Ork Codex that appeared in White Dwarf and reprinted and updated in the Chapter Approved books that supported the game during that edition. They had a simplified 'Disturbed' list with only results, but considering 3rd edition's aversion to charts of any kind, this was something of an achievement.

Madboyz entry in the 3rd Ed Ferral Ork list.

All of the images in the post are Copyright Games Workshop and are used here for the purposes of review and not as a challenge to their individual copyrights. 


Marc van Holst said...

I miss playing against the old Orks :-( I use to be a big fan of hallucinogen grenades, but I would rarely use them against Orks, as they didn't need them and would do crazy things anyway.

Da Masta Cheef said...

I didn't start playing Orks till 4th ed., so I've never even seen this unit fielded.


3tequilas said...

very cool - I'm building a 2nd ed Ork army and just finished a small unit of Mad Boyz last month

I didn't realise there were so many mad boy minis tho - I'll have to keep an eye out for more. And I clearly need a copy of Ere We Go...

I also remember Mad Boyz from the old Space Marine/Epic game, where a unit was free but again you had no idea what they were going to do.

neverness said...

Those look good! Thanks for the link.

I have 20 of them myself, 10 of which are still in blister. The assembled models have yet to be painted. Despite the current lack of rules I have been tempted many times to paint them...they are just so cool. Do you have the one with the snottling riding on the back of the Madboy's head? The snottling even has a little blunderbus!

3tequilas said...

That's a heap of Mad boyz!

I now want the one with the snotling on his head - too awesome!

Wolfe Lind said...

I had a madboys mob go on strike in the middle of a battle. We broke for lunch and while eating I made picket signs for them really quick before the break ended.

neverness said...

Ha! That is awesome!

Mörkö Väyrynen said...

Madboys did do little comeback in feral orks armylist, I think they where rither troop or elite choice. Samelust did have squiggoths, boars, cyboars and super cyboar for warboss.